PictureLuick Dairy Milk Can, Chudnow Museum
John Luick, a Civil War veteran, revolutionized the ice cream industry not just in Milwaukee, but throughout the world.  He was born in New York, and except for his two years of service in Virginia, lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Luick “saw the rise of ice cream from a Sunday luxury to an everyday dessert.”[i]  This rise was brought on largely by Luick himself.  

In the 1880’s, Luick was already making delectable ice cream in his small confectionary shop in Milwaukee.  It was his son William’s idea to sell wholesale ice cream, an idea that his father did not readily buy into.  William rented a failing drugstore soda machine on Milwaukee Street between Wisconsin and Wells.  William also purchased a small shop and started to make 10 to 20 gallons of ice cream a day.  At this time, ice cream had to be hand-turned in a small freezer.  A drugstore on 27th and Wisconsin Avenue was William’s first customer.[ii]  Because of his son William’s success in making and selling wholesale ice cream, John was convinced of the business potential.  

“The Dairy Industry is the biggest in the world.  It is bigger than the steel industry.” Thomas McInnerney 1926 to the Milwaukee Sentinel 
PictureLuick Dairy Advertising Truck
In 1897 he formed “Luick’s Ice Cream Co.”  The company grew so big in its first 90 days that the business was moved into a larger building at 602 East Ogden Street.  Copying his son’s idea, he also installed a soda fountain which turned his building into one of the most popular in the city.[iii]  Another of his brilliant ideas was to serve ice cream in the winter, which helped to spread its popularity.   

Luick made a number of important contributions to the Ice Cream Industry.  He was the first person to sell pint “bricks” of ice cream wrapped in paper and quarts of ice cream in cartons.  He created flavors of ice cream other than the traditional Neapolitan flavors of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.  Luick mixed his ice cream with fruit and candy to increase his flavor potentials.  Luick’s business was so revolutionary that confectioners from across the country came to observe his business.  Eventually, John retired and left his business to his son William.

PictureRecreated Luick Ice Cream logo
At the end of 1923, a man named Thomas McInnerney formed the National Dairy Products Corporation with the goal of consolidating all of the independent ice cream companies in the US.  McInnerney was highly successful and merged with Luick Ice Cream Co. in 1926.  Luick Ice Cream Co. was largely left to create ice cream the way it always did.  A newspaper at the time reported, “Mr. Luick [William] will remain president of his company and its organization, methods and product will remain unchanged.”[iv]  William was even appointed to the board of directors of the National Dairy Products Corporation.[v]

PictureMilk Half Pint with Luick & Sealtest Cap
Around 1929, Luick Ice Cream became part of the Sealtest division of the National Dairy Products Corporation, which would eventually become Kraft Foods, Inc.[vi]  Sealtest and Kraft were companies that were purchased by the National Dairy Products Corporation to consolidate the food industry.  In 1969, the National Dairy Products Corporation changed their name to Kraft, which is one of the biggest food-producing companies today.  In 1993, Kraft sold its ice cream brands, including Sealtest (the brand that owned Luick Ice Cream) and Breyer’s to the Unilever Corporation, which owns them today.[vii]   

Nevertheless, Luick Ice Cream was a Milwaukee staple for decades, especially in the 1920’s.  This decade saw the standard of living rise along with wages.  Never before in history did the majority of the population have some sort of disposable income or leisure time.  These two things merged together at the soda fountain or ice cream parlor that Luick helped to popularize. 

[i] “Luick, Veteran of Civil War, Is Dead at 97” The Milwaukee Journal, March 30, 1938, Page 1.
[ii] “Everybody Likes Ice Cream” The Milwaukee Sentinel, January 29, 1952, Section 2.
[iii] Ibid 
[iv] “Chain Concern Booms State Milk Future” The Milwaukee Sentinel, September 3, 1926.
[v] “Trapp Dairy Co. Unites With Chain Organization” The Milwaukee Journal, December 16, 1927, Page 1.
[vi]“Luick Dairy Co. Horse and Wagon,” Milwaukee Public Library Digital Collections, accessed June 23, 2011, http://content.mpl.org/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/HstoricPho&CISOPTR=4111&CISOBOX=1&REC=1
[vii] “Breyers,” Unilever USA Brands, accessed June 23, 2011, http://www.unileverusa.com/brands/foodbrands/breyers/index.aspx


 
 
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Born Carrie Lane on January 9, 1859 near Ripon, Wisconsin, Carrie was to be a key figure in the passing of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the founding of the League of Women Voters. She gained a college education from what is now Iowa State University. After working as a teacher and school principal, Carrie married Les Chapman in 1885, a newspaper editor. Unfortunately, he died the following year.

Carrie Chapman Catt, Suffrage Leader & Educator  1859-1947
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The year 1887 marked a new part of her life as she became involved in the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association. Carrie quickly became a leader in the fight to win women the right to vote and by 1900 she became the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), taking over for legendary women's rights advocate Susan B. Anthony. Her second marriage to George Catt ended in 1905 with his death, and she became involved with the International Woman Suffrage Alliance.

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Carrie was asked by NAWSA to return in 1915 to help the struggling organization after suffragist Alice Paul and others had left the group. Ms. Catt got the organization back on solid financial ground and developed a plan to get women the vote through passage of a federal amendment. Carrie was so sure of women getting the vote that she helped establish the League of Women Voters in 1920 before the amendment was passed. After the 19th Amendment was adopted, Catt left NAWSA to help women around the world gain the right to vote. She also endorsed the short-lived League of Nations and the later United Nations.




 
 
Elsa Ulbricht Works Progress Handicrafts Project for Milwaukee
Elsa Ulbricht was born on March 15, 1885 in Milwaukee. She studied at the Milwaukee Normal School, receiving a degree in education before attending the Pratt Institute in New York, from which she graduated in 1911. Ms. Ulbricht was asked to join the faculty of the art department of the Normal School upon her return from the east. Elsa was influenced by Wisconsin artists during this time and spent the summers of the 1920s and 1930s painting. Her work in teaching and developing a curriculum at the Normal School led to her appointment as the director for the Works Progress Administration Handicrafts Project for Milwaukee. She had a genius for organizing and a determination to get the job done to create in her words, "socially useful and durable art."

Elsa Ulbricht, Artist and Educator   1885-1980
"Our Club" sketch by Elsa Ulbricht
During eight years of the Great Depression, 1935 to 1943, five thousand Milwaukee County residents were lifted from welfare by working on dolls and toys for poor children; wall hangings, rugs and drapes for hospitals, schools and nurseries; and a myriad of other items including furniture, quilts, pillows, book binding, and costumes for theatrical groups. This WPA project became a model for others around the country, with Eleanor Roosevelt visiting Milwaukee to view its productivity. Elsa also saw to it that African Americans were employed by the project at a time when many were being turned away. She believed that everyone had one thing in common - the need for work.

Elsa Ulbricht newspaper image
Elsa taught and developed an amazing variety of subjects in the art department of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and its predecessors over the forty-four year period 1911-1955, serving the last two years as head of the department. Elsa was also a founding member of the Wisconsin Players, the Milwaukee Art Institute, and the Wisconsin Designer-Craftsmen. She was an accomplished painter, print-maker, weaver and puppeteer as well as a zealous promoter of crafts as major art forms. Ms. Ulbricht died in Milwaukee on March 13, 1980.

"And still they gazed and still the wonder grew, 
how one small head could carry all she knew." 
-1914 Normal School Graduating Verse on Elsa Ulbricht

 
 
Young Edna Ferber at desk with typewriter
Edna Ferber was born on August 15, 1885 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She grew up mostly in her native Michigan, in Iowa, and in Appleton, Wisconsin. Edna began her working career at age 17 as a reporter for the Appleton Daily Crescent, later working as a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal. Her 1912 move to New York led her into a circle of influential friends such as Katherine Hepburn, Moss Hart and George Kaufman. In 1920 she covered both the Democratic national convention in San Francisco and the Republican national convention in Chicago for the United Press Association.

Edna Ferber, Author and Newspaper Reporter   1885-1968
Edna Ferber having tea and reading a manuscript
Her talents turned to writing books that offered an accurate, lively portrait of middle-class Midwestern experiences in the 1920s and 1930s. Frequently the heroines of these books were women whose strength and talent made them successful in business, like Emma McChesney in Roast Beef or Fanny in Fanny Herself. Ferber believed that working people still retained "a kind of primary American freshness and assertiveness."

Edna Ferber's Showboat starring Ava Gardner
Edna won a Pulitzer Prize in 1924 for her book, So Big, of which there are three film adaptations. She garnered much critical acclaim for Show Boat, later turned into the musical play and movie. Her later novels Giant, Saratoga Trunk, Cimmaron and Ice Palace were all made into motion pictures. World critics hailed Ferber as the greatest woman novelist of the period. She died on April 16, 1968 in New York City. Her published works include twelve novels, twelve collections of short stories, nine plays and two autobiographies. 

"A Closed Mind is a Dying Mind" - Edna Ferber